The Korean War was a conflict between noncommunist South Korea (the Republic of Korea) and communist North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic). The war began on June 25, 1950 and ended on July 27, 1953 with an armistice agreement that established a “…complete cessation of all hostilities by all armed forces…”
North Korea was supported by China, Russia and Russian allies (Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary). South Korea was backed by 21 United Nations countries, including the United States. An estimated 90% of the soldiers sent to South Korea came from America.
Nearly 34,000 U.S. service members were killed in battle during the Korean War, and over 100,000 were wounded.
Korean War veterans were also exposed to non-battle hazards that resulted in long-term health issues, such as below-freezing climate conditions, radiation, excessive noise and vibration, diesel and jet fuel, CARC paint, asbestos, lead, industrial solvents and PCBs.
America’s Aging Korean War Veterans
Of the 2.25 million living Korean War veterans, most are now in their 80s. The number of people age 80 and older is one of the fastest growing segment of the total U.S. population.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older adults have more chronic health issues today than in the past. Some conditions, like Alzheimer’s and pulmonary disease, are on the rise.
Aging veterans with combat-related disabilities, chronic health issues or cognitive impairments will often need long-term care.
Korean War Veterans and Long-Term Care
Long-term care is an umbrella term for different types of medical and non-medical services. Non-medical care generally refers to assistance with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, transportation and medication management. The care is provided at home or, when the person can no longer live alone, in an assisted living facility or board and care home.
When an individual requires skilled medical care, it is usually provided by a licensed health care professional (registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, licensed professional nurses) in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).
An estimated one in eight people age 85 and older live in some type of care facility (Family Caregiver Alliance).
Home Care of Korean War Vets
Non-medical care often begins at home with help from family members, friends or a professional caregiver. With home care, an aging veteran can remain independent for a longer period of time. Home care includes assistance with daily living activities (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring) and instrumental activities of daily living (household chores, transportation, meal preparation and medication management). Some seniors who still live at home also participate in adult day care center programs.
Korean War Veterans and Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities (ALF) are protected environments for individuals who need around-the-clock supervision. Living units include single and shared rooms. An ALF will also provide social and recreational activities, as well as assistance with daily living tasks. Other services offered at an ALF include housekeeping, laundry and transportation to medical appointments.
Board and Care Homes for Korean War Veterans
A board and care home is similar to an assisted living facility, but smaller in size. They provide the same types of services in a home-like setting. The average number of residents at a board and care home is between 6 and 10. Some board and care homes specialize in a particular type of disability, like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Korean Conflict Vets and Skilled Nursing Care
Veterans who require on-going medical care, but not hospitalization, will often move to a skilled nursing facility (SNF). In addition to room and board, residents at an SNF have 24/7 access to healthcare professionals and personal aides.
VA Benefits for Korean Vets
During President Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural address, he promised “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.” His words became the mission statement for the Veterans Administration.
There are two agencies within the VA that provides assistance for aging veterans, the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Veterans Health Administration
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) manages the VA health care system, which is separate from the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System. The VHA currently provides medical services to over 5.5 million U.S. veterans. Medical benefits include home care (home health aide), adult day health care and admission to a skilled nursing facility.
To qualify for VA health care benefits, the veteran must have had active duty service with an other than dishonorable discharge. Members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order may also qualify for VA health care.
Veterans who enroll in the program are assigned to Priority Groups based on their status (the veteran has a service-connected disability, was a former prisoner of war, is a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor recipient, etc.)
Eligibility for long-term care services includes the veteran’s enrollment status, having a clinical need for the service and service availability. Depending on the service, there may also be financial requirements.
Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration provides financial assistance (pensions) to veterans, their spouses and surviving spouses; along with other types of assistance like home loans and life insurance.
VA pensions for veterans include a basic pension, homebound pension and Aid & Attendance. The pension program has various eligibility requirements, including the veteran having served at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a period of war. The veteran’s discharge status must also be other than dishonorable discharge.
Aid & Attendance is an enhanced pension for veterans, their spouses or surviving spouses who need help from another individual with daily living activities. It is a reimbursement for care, such as home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care. The benefit is tax-free and does not need to be paid back.
Maximum Aid & Attendance benefit amounts range from $1,153 per month for a surviving spouse to $2,846 per month for a veteran who is married to another veteran.
Aid & Attendance can help Korean War veterans cover the expense of long-term care. If you would like to learn more about this pension and how the claim process works, call us today at (877) 427-8065 and ask to speak to a benefit consultant.